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Teens Commit Suicide Following Gang Rape; Reebok Drops Rapper over Racist Lyrics; What is Bitcoin; NHL Supports Gay Athletes.

Aired April 12, 2013 - 13:30   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Allegations of rape during unsupervised teen parties where the alcohol is flowing. It's an unfortunate story line that keeps ending up in the headlines. The latest case, two teenage girls one in Canada and one in California, killing themselves after allegedly being gang raped at parties. Pictures of the alleged attack are also circulated online and texted about. And all too often that is followed up by a brutal campaign of bullying.

Joining me now, Kyra Phillips, anchor of HLN's "Raising America," and "In Session" contributor, Joey Jackson.

Good to see both of you, but sadly, on this kind of occasion.

Joey, I want to begin with you because we are talking about at least in one case where there are arrests that have been made. This will be prosecuted, however. We're talking about the alleged victim who is dead.


WHITFIELD: And are we talking about a difficulty in collecting physical evidence? Or what is it that will substantiate prosecutors and how they'll be able to proceed and actually adjudicate this case?

JACKSON: Sure. First of all, these are such tragic stories. It affects you as a parent, as a person, as a human being. It appeals to that and it's so sad. I think social media, you're seeing a big revolution between the way prosecutors are moving forward in gathering information and then using that information in courtrooms to piece together events as they occur.

WHITFIELD: Meaning that there is greater weight on testimony?


WHITFIELD: On eyewitness accounts?

JACKSON: Not only you have eyewitness accounts, but you have pictures at many times to put together the information to see if there was attack, how it occurred, who was involved, how many parties were there, what specifically was being done. You have a photo that's there. And then the sadder part of course is it's being put on social media. And the consequences to individuals are so traumatic because they can't take it. And in this instance, my life's ruined, says the girl. As a result of it, she commits suicide. Really tragic.

WHITFIELD: It is tragic.

And, Kyra, we're talking about this almost seems like it's lifting a veil on a whole subculture here.

KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST, RAISING AMERICA: This is what is so painful about this whole situation. And it's called slutching (ph). That's actually what it's called. And it's a trend. If these girls -- if this happens to these girls, if they are raped and these pictures go on the Internet and then that's hard enough as a female, as a young girl to see that, right? But then when these boys and these girls start calling her a slut and sluts aren't welcome here and this is all your fault, imagine what that's like for a teenager to have to listen to and have to deal with.

And it really brings it back to the conversation as parents. We have got to raise our boys and girls differently. What about these boys that think it's OK to do this --


PHILLIPS: -- and put pictures on the Internet?

WHITFIELD: Where on the Internet it seems as though there's a juncture young people have come to and there is license now to take advantage of someone and someone's vulnerability.

PHILLIPS: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: That's what this is saying.

PHILLIPS: We have to teach our girls to be confident and strong and stand up to situations like this. And we got to teach our boys that you don't just rape a girl because she's drunk, and take pictures of it and put it all over the Internet.

JACKSON: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: You're wearing a T-shirt, someone trying to campaign and send that message.


PHILLIPS: I was so touched. Strong is beautiful. And a viewer saw we were talking about this subject matter, really staying on top of it from Steubenville to this situation.

JACKSON: Exactly.

PHILLIPS: And she said, let me tell you about Kyra's discussions, and I'm having discussions about empowering these girls. She's not only having T-shirts but forums online on Facebook and Twitter. JACKSON: That's the positive that comes out of this. If there could be something that could be done -- and it takes I think not only parents and individuals and teachers, but communities, as you mentioned, right, to raise our children, to understand to be respectful and to do things properly --


JACKSON: -- so that this doesn't occur.

WHITFIELD: Exactly. It has to come after these kinds of consequences, these latest examples. So how do you get ahead of it?


WHITFIELD: What about the message sent by the legal system?

JACKSON: I think what you do see is you'll see legislation developed, right, to more effectively deal with cyber bullying.

WHITFIELD: It's a gray area.

JACKSON: Absolutely. What you have in the expansion of this whole Internet and social revolution, you have the law doesn't keep up with it. So as a result of that --


JACKSON: Exactly. It's a patchwork all over. There needs to be universal standard, there needs to be more education done to it, so people understand and our children understand as they grow up to be men that it's just not acceptable to engage in behavior, to take advantage of anyone, and to be gentlemen as you move forward.

WHITFIELD: Uh-huh. As you talk to parents on your show, in particular, you know, "Raising America," are they talking about the kind of pressure they want to impose on lawmakers, on the law system so that there is a safety net? But what is it about -- what is different about these times now where you're talking about -- we're having to talk about this.


PHILLIPS: Joey and I talk about this. It's like in many ways kids need to be brought back and be raised old school, OK? Because everywhere they are they've got a phone, they're texting, they're taking pictures, they're saying things, and they don't have to be held accountable. It's a lot easier to call a girl a slut and put a picture out there and say all these horrible things and not be held accountable. You know, back in the day, you're in the hallway, someone had an issue with you, they were up in your face.

JACKSON: That's right.

PHILLIPS: Now, you can be the most cowardly person and put all these stuff out there, and look what it does to people. WHITFIELD: And sadly now you can't go home and feel like I'm in a safe place because your cell phone is with you, the messages that are being texted, Facebook.



JACKSON: And when it goes out there, it goes viral. Precisely. So it gets everyone. It's not only the school or the community or the state. Everyone can see it. So imagine the traumatic impact it has on the individual affected.

WHITFIELD: And maybe the language has to change. You heard the Canadian prime minister says, this isn't bullying, this is criminal when it reaches this level -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Boys have to be held accountable and we got to start talking to our girls early on about being confident, strong young women.

WHITFIELD: Kyra, Joey, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

JACKSON: And you.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, Kyra's show, "Raising America," airs weekdays on HLN.

Let me know what you think about all of this and we'll share some of your comments.


WHITFIELD: All right. The sportswear company, Reebok, is dropping rapper, Rick Ross, after lyrics in his song allude to raping women. Ross raps about giving a drug he calls Mali (ph) to women and then having his way with them. He has since apologized but the lyrics are sparking outrage from fans and lots of chatter online.

Let's turn to digital expert, James Andrew, with me now. He's the founder of Social People.

James, what are people saying about this? These are news items that are just simply igniting in, you know, the blogosphere, digital media, et cetera.

JAMES ANDREWS, FOUNDER, SOCIAL PEOPLE: Activism. We built a Social Media Command Center to tap into these to tap into what people are saying. I found Dream Hampton, she's a pretty prolific journalist, and she talks about what was going on. What I uncovered was there's an entire movement to get Reebok to drop Rick Ross. So it started with the petition. And the petition drove the people to the street. 72,000 people signed this petition and they went to the Reebok store in Times Square and actually drove Reebok to really reconsider Rick Ross as a face of the company. It's been pretty amazing to watch the conversation and watch the dialogue. It's trending really high on Twitter. Another reason in the proof point that social media is about activism.

WHITFIELD: So the discussion and the action that resulted from the boardroom discussion actually was ignited by what was taking place on the streets and just people saying, you know, you got to do something.

ANDREWS: Yes. You got to do something. These lyrics are wrong. There's so many others as we're going to start seeing in social media.

WHITFIELD: What are some of those other instances or news items that have now taken off in a new way?

ANDREWS: Yes. One is "Glee." The stream in the conversation is amazing. You have some people on two sides. You have some people that really believe in the "Glee" content. They think that last night's show was the right content.

WHITFIELD: And on that show, we're looking at a classroom setting, gunshots are heard. And so there are many Newtown, Connecticut, parents who are saying, wait a minute, too soon. In fact, there's a clip right there.

But in general what are people saying, supportive of this kind of creative license, or supportive with the families in Newtown?

ANDREWS: More supportive of Newtown. They're more supportive of, look, the timing was wrong. This wasn't the right time for this episode.


WHITFIELD: And even though know one was shot on the show, it was the sound of the gunfire still elicits a response.

ANDREWS: Yes. Ryan Murphy, the creator of the show, praising the episode on Twitter. People really took offense to this. So it's a really delicate situation. But I think you're going to see a lot more conversation. If we look at the overall dialogue and simply measured board, we have a lot of conversations, rich dialogue right now. People really upset about, you know, this approach and what "Glee" has done.

WHITFIELD: How do we interpret this? What are we looking at here?

ANDREWS: What we're looking at is total impressions. We have 13 million total impressions going up.

WHITFIELD: At different times of the day.

ANDREWS: Right. So right now, people are having a dialogue. They're discussing "Glee." They're looking at this situation, going this isn't the right time.

WHITFIELD: With that information being informed and being empowered.

James, good to see you.

ANDREWS: Thank you so much. Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: How about this notion? I don't know, maybe you'd be on board with this if you are, you know, digital. Would you forget using cash, ditching the credit card altogether, and use something called the Bitcoin? Familiar with it? Virtual currency? We'll explain exactly what it is and how it works next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Remember the Winklovoss twins, Tyler and Cameron Winklovoss? Best known for their fight with Mark Zuckerberg over who started Facebook. Well, they went on to make millions from an online currency called Bitcoins. But their bubble may be bursting again. Their stock has dropped from $250 a share to $79. That brings their company's worth down from $28 million to a little more than $8.5 million now.

But what is Bitcoin anyway? And how does it work?

Our Maggie Lake has that part of the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I get an account with 25? And I'm going to pay with Bitcoin.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't have to whip out your wallet to pay for a drink at this bar. At midtown Manhattan's Ever, Bitcoins are now accepted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: .2855 Bitcoin. Send payment.

LAKE: Ever began taking Bitcoins with the help of this group of early adopters. The owners were quickly won over.

(on camera): Can you explain to me how this works?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the amount in U.S. dollars, you go to your wallet on your phone, your Bitcoin wallet and scan the code, press send. We get the Bitcoin, which are then converted into dollars within minutes for us. You get your drink.

LAKE: And you get paid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll have a gin and tonic.

LAKE: Evers is one of the few brick-and mortar-places to accept the payment system.


NARRATOR: Bitcoins are transferred directly from person-to-person via the net.


LAKE: The virtual coins are bought and sold through a limited number of online digital exchanges, like now.gox. You can't buy them with a credit card, but you do need to link a bank account or cell phone.

Charlie Shrem is an investor and co-founder of exchange bid instant. He admits the currency has a bit to overcome.

CHARLIE SHREM, INVESTOR & CO-FOUNDER, EXCHANGE BID INSTANT: In the beginning, Bitcoins was I would say 80 percent over volume. Used for illicit activities, like drugs, things like that, fake I.D.s.


LAKE: The boost in popularity came on the heels of the crisis in Cypress where people are little access to traditional banking. Some say Bitcoin would have offered a workable currency alternative.

(on camera): You may not want to take your real cash out of a real bank just yet. There are now places in New York City you can spend Bitcoins, there's real concerns about consumer protection.

There's a reason people put their money in banks. You have recourse. You don't get that with this currency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. There's a reason why we have regulators and we are not on the world web.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I pay with this with Bitcoin?

LAKE (voice-over): Despite the stomach-turning swings, Ever's managers say they're convinced Bitcoins have real benefits for businesses and are here to stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If everyone would use a Bitcoin, I would love that. I wouldn't have to wait for dealing with a credit card, better processing rate.

LAKE: People find a way to pay for a drink one way of the other, but Ever hopes to raise the company's profile --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, man.

LAKE: -- at least in this New York bar.

Maggie Lake, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And a woman wakes up from a coma with one man on her mind, Bob Seger. What's she doing now? That's in the next hour.


WHITFIELD: First, the Blue Angels and now Fleet Week is getting hit by the across-the-board spending cuts. Every year around this time, Navy ships dock in New York for Fleet week celebrations. But the Navy says it is under orders to avoid community activities that cost extra because of the forced spending cuts. That means most of the ships probably won't be docking this year, but other Fleet Week activities just might go on. The "Wall Street Journal" says fleet week costs the Navy between $7 million and $10 million.

Arizona police and the FBI want to know who mailed a package to a sheriff's office that may turn out to be a bomb. Maricopa County -- and the package arrived at the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The bomb squad came in when postal workers saw wires and other things that made them nervous. Arpaio is a controversial figure in Arizona. He's often accused of discrimination and operating above the law. No official word yet as to whether the package was, indeed, a bomb.

Let's talk about taxes. Tax filing day. And apparently, now we have public information about the Obamas and their tax returns. That information just being released.

Zain Asher joining us from New York.

All right, so, what's the return and how much growth, how much paid in taxes, et cetera?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this is pretty interesting. The first lady and President Obama had an income last year of $600,000. They essentially paid $112,000 in taxes. That means that the tax rate was essentially 18.4 percent.

We also want to talk about their donation to charities. Pretty generous. They reported donating $150,000 to 33 different charities as well. Also want to mention that Illinois income tax also came in as well and they had paid $29,000 for that as well -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, total disclosure, total transparency there.

Thanks so much, Zain Asher. Appreciate that.

The National Hockey League has a new message. If you can play, you can play. It is a push to embrace gay athletes.


GARY BETTMAN, COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE: What we're trying to do is make it clear that we have an environment where whoever you are, whatever you believe, whatever you practice, whatever your orientation, you can feel comfortable and welcome and we have the resources to back that up.



WHITFIELD: The National Hockey League has put out a new ad showing strong support for gay players. The league joined forces with the sports anti-homophobia group called You Can Play. Here is part of the ad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can skate --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can shoot --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can score --



WHITFIELD: The league will also give anti-homophobia training to players and it has set up a help program that gives players a confidential outlet to discuss issues.


BETTMAN: We want people to know, whether or not you're an NHL hockey player or a child or long time fan, that this is a place where you can feel comfortable no matter who you are.

PATRICK BURKE, CO-FOUNDER, YOU CAN PLAY: Our athletes are tired of being seen as meat-head jocks, tired of being portrayed as people who aren't supportive. NHL athletes are engaged, in their communities, socially active and tired of being seen as bullies.


WHITFIELD: You can play was founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout, Patrick Burke, on the right in this photo. His brother, Brendan, announced he was gay in 2009. He died in a car crash a year after that.

Before I end the hour, let's take a quick look at what's trending. This might look like an amusement park attraction. It is actually a bridge in Vietnam, a bridge in the shape of a dragon. It shoots fire and water from its mouth. And if that isn't spectacular enough, at night, the bridge is lit up by more than 2,500 LED lights.

And get this, in Dubai, a new fleet of police cars has a lot of people talking. Take a look at this one right here, the Lamborghini. It will help police catch speeders because, you know, common vehicles out there, you're talking about Ferraris and Lamborghinis, they have to catch up. They drive at more than 135 miles an hour in Dubai. Dubai isn't the first police force to buy one of these. Lamborghinis are also used by police in Italy and Qatar.

That's going to do it for me. I'll be back tomorrow, noon eastern time, talking with the Michael Jackson's wrongful death -- well, I'll be talking with an attorney about the wrongful death trial involving Michael Jackson. Talking about Mark Geragos. He represented the singer in other cases previously.

All right, the CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Don Lemon.